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Harmonic Minor #1, #2, #3, #4, #5, #6, #7

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Illustrious Member
Joined: 16 years ago
Posts: 8184
Topic starter  

Harmonic Minor #1 - 1-2-b3-4-5-b6-7 - Ok, we all use this one but does anyone use the following all that much?

1 b2 b3 4 b5 6 b7
1 2 3 4 #5 6 7
1 2 b3 #4 5 6 b7
1 b2 3 4 5 b6 b7
1 #2 *3 #4 5 6 7
1 b2 b3 b4 b5 b6 bb7

Do they not have a name like major scale modes or are they just called 2,3,4,5,6,7?

Also, these same questions can be applied to the melodic minor.

1 2 b3 4 5 6 7
1 b2 b3 4 5 6 b7
1 2 3 #4 #5 6 7
1 2 3 #4 5 6 b7
1 2 3 4 5 b6 b7
1 2 b3 4 b5 b6 b7
1 b2 b3 b4 b5 b6 b7

Noble Member
Joined: 20 years ago
Posts: 1162

They're used in jazz, I like the dominant phygrian mode, which is the harmonic minor starting on the 5th but other then that I don't use them.


Honorable Member
Joined: 20 years ago
Posts: 608

I think because of their characteristic they sound very similar, i think Phrygian Domint is popular because it takes the harmonic minor concept (augmented second) and the phrygian concept (only a half step after the first note, very dark) and it mixes them both..

Hey Noteboat..

Harmonic minor is like parent to Phrygian dominant (cos its the 5th mode of it)

what about the Double Harmonic and Hungarian Minor, they are both modes of one another, but which one would be classed as "the parent scale"??

Illustrious Member
Joined: 20 years ago
Posts: 4921

There really isn't such a thing as a 'parent scale' for any mode - including the traditional ones. The Dorian, Phrygian, Lydian, and Mixolydian modes were used (and called by those names) nearly a thousand years before the major scale appeared.... so thinking of them as derivations of the major scale is misleading. Every scale is a set of tones - there are no parents, no children, no cousins, and no in-laws.

Yes, there have been a number of attempts to name the 'modes' of the various minor scales. I ignore them :)

Why? Because scales that are useful already have names in their own right - the Dorian, for instance, was called that a long time before modal theory. If you start an A minor pentatonic scale from the note G, you'll get an oriental sound. Why make up some contrived 'modal' name for this - it sounds oriental because it's the Japanese Ritsu scale.

Most of the names of 'modes' of the minor scales relate to the major modes anyway - and they're descriptive enough that you don't need to clutter your head up with a bunch of new stuff. Take the A melodic minor scale: A-B-C-D-E-F#-G#-A. If you start that from C, you get: C-D-E-F#-G#-A-B-C. The C Lydian is C-D-E-F#-G#-A-B-C... so the third 'mode' of the melodic minor is often called the 'Lydian augmented'. Or take the A harmonic minor, starting from the sixth note: F-G#-A-B-C-D-E-F. Compare that to F Lydian, and you can see why it's logical to call that one Lydian #9.

Thinking of scales as alterations of other scales is useful... you know which notes are involved, and what the root is. Thinking of them as 'shifts' of another scale pattern isn't very practical - Lydian #9 gets me where I want to be in a hurry; sixth mode of the harmonic minor (by any name) doesn't.

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